Letter: The math doesn't add up


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  • Stop The Nonsense El Paso, TX
    Feb. 28, 2014 11:14 a.m.

    What people fail to realize is how our current society would COLLAPSE if people stopped having babies. The problem is, babies are really really expensive (trust me). So, if you look at children in terms of a public good, then parents of children are already shouldering in a major way the costs of sustaining society. (You're welcome, by the way.) The $150 refund per child is a drop in the bucket compared to the overall costs of child rearing.

  • Ex-Pat of Zion Lititz, PA
    Feb. 28, 2014 9:28 a.m.

    The solution is simple and completely beyond the reach of local government: Move if you're that passionate about a taxation issue you believe unfair. If you have a little more patience you could vote. Econ 101 tells us your choice is based on what your alternatives are.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Feb. 27, 2014 9:14 p.m.


    You said "To "Fred44" it is called statistics". So where are your statisics? In the next breath you say "It is highly improbable that a private school would have a significantly different range of kids than a public school". So is it statistics or highly improbable in your mind? I have never met anyone that works private or public school system that would say that public and private school students are not significantly different in any measurement.

    It is virtually impossible for a traditional public school to expel a student today. Suspend for a few days yes, expel no. The rules are not even close to the same, the clientele is not the same, and the mission is not the same.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 1:22 p.m.

    To "Confused"

    Reality 1: Schools expell students for minor things. A recent case where a student was expelled because he appeared to be intimidating another student. The fact was he was defending another student against a bully.

    Reality 2: Paying is paying. You claimed that the public schools were not being paid for by the parents, when in actuality they are. You are just whining about the middleman.

    Reality 3: Severly handicapped students are put into special schools that can meet their needs. There are private schools set up to handle the severly handicapped. Even the more mildly handicapped are also taken care of at the schools. They spend THOUSANDS of dollars retaining special-Ed specialists.

    Reality 4: You agree that the private schools are not just selecting the top students. They accept students based on the willingness of the parents to pay.

  • Confused Sandy, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 11:36 a.m.


    I think you need to go back and do some research my friend..

    CounterPoint 1 - Yes, they can expel him from school for a time period. But the offense has to be pretty severe to have this happen. Even then, the only thing the kid will get at the worse is Transferred.

    CounterPoint 2. Wow really? taxes is your best come back? Here is the deal, EVERYONE pays taxes, there is no getting out of it. but when you pay out of your own pocket (after taxes) it has a bigger influence on how the parent supports the student.

    CounterPoint 3. If you think extremely disable children do not go to public school, may I suggest you go to your local school and check that out. According to ADA law, a school must accomadate any disabled student who wants to attend the school. They spend MILLIONS of education dollars to accomadate these students.

    CounterPoint4 - The Parents may choose which Private school they want their children to attend, but it is up to the School to accept them as a student.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 10:34 a.m.

    To "Fred44" it is called statistics. It is highly improbable that a private school would have a significantly different range of kids than a public school. Since there is no correlation between wealth and IQ, it is quite reasonable to assume this.

    To "Confused" you really are confused.

    1. Public schools can expell students or put disruptive students into detention. So there is no difference.

    2. Parents do pay for public schools through income, sales, and property taxes. Not to mention the cookie, candybar, PTA movie night, and other fund raisers that they put on.

    3. It depends on what you consider extremely disabled. The extremly disabled are unable to go even to a standard public school. However, most private schools have specialists to handle disabled or handicapped students. St. Olaf's school in Bountiful has such resources.

    4. The schools do not select the students. The parents of the students select the school. There is a difference.

  • Confused Sandy, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 9:23 a.m.

    Here is the thing, it does explain it..

    One - Private schools at any time can expelled a disruptive student (my friends son was booted for being disruptive).

    Two - Because parents are paying for at least part of the private education, they are more involved with the student to actually do the work. In public schools the number one issue is parental support (I know because my wife teaches in Public School)

    Three - Yes some special needs kids do well in private school, but are they "Extremely" disabled? Public School requires that they take all students. Private Schools can pick and choose.

    Fourth - To say that selected students does not explain how their scores are better is "strange".

    One suggestion, please look at the "actual" test scores of private vs public schools, you would be surprised just how close they really are.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Feb. 26, 2014 6:05 a.m.


    Just curious how you "know for a fact" that the makeup of private schools is similar to that of public schools. What do you mean by similar, that they both have students? Other than that there is very little that is similar. I have never seen a statistical analysis comparing students in public and private school that would support your claim.

    Saying that being able to select students does not explain results shows a real lack of understanding of the difference between private and public schools. Private schools do not tolerate disruptive students, they do not tolerate students who don't attend, they do not tolerate students who are not making progress toward graduation. Where do all those students they do not tolerate end up? You guessed it back at their neighborhood public schools.

    Parents who pay significant money from their pocket for their child's education are also typically have a higher level of education, are more involved in the educational process and place a higher value on education. These have all proven to correlate directly to higher test scores.

  • NorthboundZax Makanda, IL
    Feb. 25, 2014 3:55 p.m.

    Everyone benefits from a functional education system. Whether I have zero or five in the school system, I will benefit by having kids in school, learning, and becoming contributing members of society. Asking everyone to pitch in for something so basic to improving society across the board shouldn't be this onerous.

  • Demo Dave Holladay, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 1:42 p.m.

    This gets my vote for letter of the year.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 10:11 a.m.

    To "Confused" that does not explain why most private schools have test scores that average the 90th percentile or better, while public schools don't. Just being able to select students does not explain their results. Private schools are able to get better results than the Spectrum programs at the public schools. I know for a fact that the private schools have similar makeups as the public schools.

    So again, tell us why they can do better. I know of special needs kids that go to private schools and do very well. Behavioral problem are just an excuse.

    So again, why do private schools do better?

  • Confused Sandy, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 8:01 a.m.

    I can answer you question about Private School vs Public Schools...

    The answer is quite simple, the difference is that in the private school they can be selective in who they allow to attend their schools. They can pick and choose who they want.

    The public Schools by law have to accept everyone, Special Needs, non English speaking, children with behavioral problems, etc...

    That is why private can do a better job on 8,000 /yr than public schools.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 7:59 a.m.

    To "JoeBlow" I just want to make sure that everybody understands this.

    Private schools do more with less money (public schools are always doing fund raisers too) and have better results because of a culture within the parents. The parents are more involved and make sure that discipline is maintained.

    Now, how do we get that same culture into the public schools?

  • Spoc Ogden, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 10:02 p.m.

    Horace Mann, an early advocate of public education would agree with you. He promoted the idea that financial means should not play a role in determining the availability of education.

    You put his idea in practical terms with regard to our current system. “High quality education benefits the entire society, which is why everyone's taxes (parents and non-parents alike) help pay for it.”

    You are also correct that with each additional child, the family expense to feed them increases, even though the funds available to do so do not. This leaves a smaller portion of the family income available for education, which is why Horace advocated public education in the first place. Parents in Horace's day often had to choose between books and bread as they had not the means to do both. Society receives its compensation when the public education loan is repaid by supporting their benefactors later in their old age.

    The total amount of money invested is not so much a product of the funding structure as it is a reflection of the value we place on education vs other opportunities.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Feb. 24, 2014 7:08 p.m.

    "I get what you're saying. It's hard to explain why a private school gets better results than a public school"

    I have had a kid in private and public school. The level of involvement by parents in the private school was infinitely more than those in public school. There were virtually NO discipline issues in the private schools.

    The learning environment was very different.

    As for cost. Yes, the private school cost less than what the state paid for public education. However, there were lots of fundraisers and the teachers were paid less. Additionally, there was no bus system, or it came with an additional cost.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 4:52 p.m.

    I get what you're saying. It's hard to explain why a private school gets better results than a public school when the per-pupil spending is about the same. I guess Government inefficiency and the requirement to teach to the lowest common denominator, along with no incentive to push capable students to excel and instead encourage them to align with the norm (so nobody gets their feelings hurt) may be part of it.

    But don't try to turn this into a voucher discussion. We've already been over that and it lost.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Feb. 24, 2014 3:18 p.m.

    To "Karen Van Winkle" since the money is not making it to the kids, lets see where it goes. The last time the funding was bumped up, none of the money made it to the classrooms because it was put into the pension program for retired teachers.

    The bigger question that you should be asking is why do private schools have smaller classrooms when spending is about the same? Private schools cost around $8000/yr. Right now we spend around $8000/yr per studen when you include building costs for public schools. Why do the private schools do so much better than the public schools? Is it even possible to legislate our way to making public schools equal to the private schools?

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 3:07 p.m.

    I'm of two minds on the conservative reaction to the effort to limit tax shelters for having kids:

    -On one hand I'm happy to help pay for the education of kids, they are the future, they'll become tomorrow's leaders and bread winners, etc.

    -On the other hand, this reaction is ridiculous hypocrisy, given the conservative instinct to denigrate Social Security and Medicare as "Pyramid Schemes", and generally frown up social spending as being either unwise, or un-constitutional.

    Overall, my only hesitation in supporting ongoing uneven taxation to support education is that with the prevailing culture, producing more kids will produce more people who view social spending as evil, except how it benefits them, of course.

    Hypocrisy is just a bad way to live, especially as it gets engrained and becomes multi-generational.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 2:48 p.m.

    those darned seniors, demanding so much more from our social services structures than younger people, more health care, more social servies, etc, and they have AUDACITY to claim an extra exemption on both the state and federal tax returns.

    Those darned blind people, demanding so much more from our social services structures than sighted people, more health care, more social servies, etc, and they have AUDACITY to claim an extra exemption on both the state and federal tax returns.

    get the picture?

    If our liberal friends are so demanding of equal treatment, why are they not SCREAMING for the removal of the extra exemptions for the elderly and the blind?

    No, despite their misgotten claims of wanting to care for those less fortunate, they really just want to punish people with more kids.

    I think they may just want to implement the Chinese 1-child policy, enforcing it through the tax code

    As Hamath points out, large families contribute more to the economy than is measured just in income tax reciept - they pay more in sales taxes and generate more economic activity to raise those kids than do the childless.

  • John Charity Spring Back Home in Davis County, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 12:49 p.m.

    The left wing will stop at nothing in its attempt to destroy the traditional family. If the left cannot destroy it directly, it will be happy to do so indirectly by taxing it out of existence.

    The slumbering masses must awaken and rise up before the left wing socialists destroy American society. Does the public really want America to become just a European-style post-Christian socialist republic? Of not, it is time to act.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 12:42 p.m.

    How do you know "those posting on this site receive more tax subsidies than those on Welfare, SNAP and Unemployment"?

    Just another politically biased stereotype based assumption?

    Truth is... You have no idea what income bracket the people who post to this site are in, or what business they are in, or even what personal philosophy or political bend they are.

    Not everybody believes the political assumptions you know.


    RE: "The only difference between a Democrat and Republican is how they spend our money"...

    That's mostly true. One tends to spend it on Defense. The other tends to spend it on entitlements. I like the Federal Government making sure we have a first rate Defense/military (I see that clearly mandated in the Constitution). I don't see where it's their job to send me paychecks for being unemployed, being retired, etc, in the Constitution.

    The other difference is... how much money Democrats are comfortable taking from your pay-check. One has a lot higher goal than the other.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 12:30 p.m.

    At the same time, conservatives rail against poor people having kids claiming some use it to exploit the system to increase benefits... then again the stereotypical Utah family is white, not black or Hispanic so you know, I guess the "welfare queen" argument doesn't apply here...

  • ugottabkidn Sandy, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 12:01 p.m.

    The only difference between a Democrat and Republican is how they spend our money. Do we invest or do we spend it on tax breaks for those not in need? For your information, those posting on this site receive more tax subsidies than those on Welfare, SNAP and Unemployment in the form of deductions and those with extra kids receive even more. The argument should be "all in, no one left out" and yes there is enough money to pay for it. You just have to quit the annual special interest quest on Capital Hill.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 11:38 a.m.

    I agree that families with more kids should be paying more for their education (not less). But education is a community good/service. There is a clear community interest in having a good education system (whether you have kids or not). It shouldn't be funded ONLY by parents with kids in school (because the school system benefits the whole community). But there should be a way for families with more kids to pay more.

    The current way of funding schools (property tax) doesn't take family size into account.

    Maybe the best solution would be to do away with the income tax deduction for having children. But governments are used to encouraging behaviors that benefit society (like having children, having a mortgage, investing for retirement, etc)... and the easiest way to manipulate the population they have found is... the tax code (give tax breaks for having children, having a mortgage, tax breaks for retirement savings, etc).

    So I don't expect the deduction to encourage people to have children will go away. As long as government sees having children as something they want to encourage.

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    Feb. 24, 2014 11:37 a.m.

    An entitlement is an entitlement whether it is an entitlement given to senior citizens (social security), whether it is an entitlement given to the poor (welfare, food stamps ACA), whether it is a tax break for a new business we want in our community, or tax breaks for oil companies or private jets, or tax break for having more children.

    This legislation is not an attack on large families, it simply trying to get large families to get some "skin" in the game using a favorite far right term when it comes to the cost of educating their children. If this were an attack on large families, then we would see a proposal that would reduce my taxes because I have no children in the system and raise taxes large families taxes. I see no where in this proposal where my taxes will go down, and I will still be paying more than the family with 4 children for education, and I am ok with that because we should all have skin in the game when it comes to public education.

  • Confused Sandy, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 10:59 a.m.

    Excuse Joe Blow....

    Just how is Family 1 paying more taxes? Look at all the tax credits you can take on your Federal return BEYOND the deduction for children (remember State tax is based off you federal tax).

    People with large families takes deduction for children. while families with less children can take other deduction like installing energy efficient devices, business expenses, Profit/Loss of stocks, etc...

    So while the larger family gets dependent deductions, it does not always mean the people who have no children or fewer children get not equal or greater deductions.

    This whole thing against larger families getting some type of break is a farse. If you don't think so, then look at how much money a large family spends in the economy and how much a family that has no children spends... each generates revenues for business, who in turn pays state taxes.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 10:42 a.m.

    @Mike Richards. Now you are for helping others? How many times have you said Obamacare is redistribution of wealth and unconstitutional?

    Just yesterday you commented on SB139's faulty logic, which is about a bill that would levy a tax on emission free vehicles. You were in favor of a user fee or tax for emission free vehicles.

    You said, "A car is useless without roads. Electric vehicles do not pay fuel taxes. High efficiency vehicles pay a very small amount of fuel taxes, yet both kinds of vehicles require that roads be built and maintained." Schools require more resources with more kids do they not?

    You also said "A car getting 15 miles per gallon will pay a 1.63 cents per mile tax. A car getting 50 mpg will pay 0.49 cents per mile traveled. An electric car will pay nothing. They all use the same road".

    Big families and small families use the same schools, do they not? But you our outraged larger families should pay a little more.

    So you are in favor of other people opening their wallet for you, not the other way around

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Feb. 24, 2014 10:35 a.m.

    "If you're for the unequal taxation of people, you'll like the bill. "

    Seriously Mike, How can you say that.

    Take 2 Families.

    Family 1 - Mom, Dad, Kid 1 - Salary $75K House value $200K

    Family 2 - Mom, Dad, Kid 1, Kid 2, Kid 3, Kid 4, Kid 5 - Salary $75K, house value $200K.

    Family 1 pays more in taxes and uses less of the schools.

    How is that NOT unequal treatment?
    Why should family 1 pay more in taxes than family 2?

  • Lew Scannon Provo, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 9:45 a.m.

    As a parent of four children who are now adults, let me add a little perspective. When my kids were in public school, I was early in my career and was not earning much. Taking away the two exemptions would have been somewhat difficult. Raising kids is expensive. But it's an investment that pays off in the future for all of society. Now that my kids are grown and I am saving for retirement, I can afford to pay more taxes, which I am glad to do to help out those who are now in the position I was in ten to twenty years ago.

    Also, I figure it is in my own best interest to support a strong school system, because when today's junior high and high school students have been in the workforce a few years, their taxes will help to pay for my Social Security and Medicare.

    We're a society, folks; that means we help each other out. It's not each man for himself (or each woman for herself). So, conservatives, please get off the Darwinist soapbox.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Feb. 24, 2014 9:43 a.m.


    This is about punishing families. This is about having the government decide that two children is the "right" number per family. This is about giving some people exemptions and refusing to give other people the same exemption. This is about giving schools $200,000 each with no strings attached, no oversight, no justification. This is about one class of people in Utah telling another class that they are undesireable. This is about those who dislike children telling children that they don't matter.

    This is about a Democrat in Utah telling Utah families that she will make their life miserable because she has the power to do that.

    This is plain and pure discrimination. If you're in favor of discrimination, you'll like the bill. If you're for the unequal taxation of people, you'll like the bill. If you're in favor of penalizing large families, you'll like the bill. If you're in favor of giving schools tax money to do with as they please with no accountability, you'll like the bill.

    As for me, there is nothing in the bill to like. Nothing at all.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Feb. 24, 2014 9:25 a.m.

    So THAT is what this is all about? $150 per child per year.

    Let me see. That amounts to less than .0001875 of the cost of that years education.

    The family with 6 kids is getting over $600,000 worth of education. How much of that do you think comes out of their pocket?

    And still they complain. Wow. Just WOW.

    Some people wouldn't recognize a sweet deal (or an entitlement) if it landed in their own pocket.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Feb. 24, 2014 8:52 a.m.

    To those of you who want to make large families unequal when they are taxed, just how do you reconcile your posts with the 14th Amendment that some of you demand be used to allow same-sex marriage. On the one hand, you demand full equality, but when it hits your wallet, you want special status. Isn't that always the way it is. You'll for anything that helps you, but when it comes time to open your wallet to benefit someone else, you cry "foul".

    Some people choose to not have children. Some "marriages" can never produce children. But, some people in Utah have large families. You want to punish them by making them pay $150 per child more in taxes than you pay. YOU have your exemption. YOU, your wife and two children have their exemptions. But you think that you are special. You demand that others pay a hirer price to live in YOUR society. You want them to shoulder a larger share of the tax burden than you bare.

    Judge Shelby will throw you and your ideas out of his court room.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 8:32 a.m.

    @Hamathm. I have to agree with Joeblow. Republicans are slamming democrats in Florida, in political ads for taking money away from medicare.

    All republicans know that taking away medicare and social security are political suicide.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Feb. 24, 2014 7:58 a.m.

    "if the liberals are willing to get rid of all of the Democratic wealth redistribution programs (welfare, medicaid, medicare) etc."

    The GOP has done a great job selling the narrative that it is the Democrats that put forth all of the "redistribution programs"

    Can you point me to a Republican who is for ending medicare or SS?
    Did you notice that it was the GOP controlled government that championed NCLB and Medicare Part d (largest entitlement expansion in decades). Voted for by all current GOP leadership - Boehner, McConnell, Canter, Ryan.

    Bottom line is that the GOP is just as likely to spend big (even on entitlements) when they are in power. They only show fiscal restraint when they are out of power.

    And the sad thing is that the proposal is to reduce the tax credit to only 2 children.

    Can anyone provide info on what $$ increase that means for the average Utahn? I bet it is very small.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Feb. 24, 2014 6:25 a.m.

    People who choose to have large families should participate in the cost of educating those large families. That is the only fair method. Eliminate per-child tax deductions.

  • Hamath Omaha, NE
    Feb. 24, 2014 4:37 a.m.

    Aren't Businesses (which pay a large % of the school price) eventually benefiting enormously from the large families's future children who become their employees, their future customers, etc?
    Still, I get the point, especially from single or childless families. Seems like wealth redistribution to me. How about this compromise? As a conservative, I'd be willing to get rid of all of the Republican wealth redistribution programs (the school funding model, child tax credit, etc.) if the liberals are willing to get rid of all of the Democratic wealth redistribution programs (welfare, medicaid, medicare) etc.